Syrian Civil War Begins Intruding on Rural Countryside

Residents had been able to avoid taking sides


For months, the western rural region of Homs was an unusual model of coexistence in Syria's brutal two-year-old civil war. Now, it risks becoming a dark episode in the country's deepening sectarian conflict.

Syria's uprising-turned-war has forced most Syrians to take sides in a struggle that has killed more than 100,000.

But in this strategic stretch of territory, home to a potentially combustible mix of religious groups with conflicting political loyalties, they had avoided that stark choice.

Wary of opening a new front, warring parties allowed villages to cooperate quietly with both Assad's Alawite-led forces and the majority Sunni rebels struggling to topple him.